Tues. Jan. 14, 2014: The Project Stack

Tuesday, January 14, 2014
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Cloudy and mild

There’s a piece on Strand Books, one of my favorite bookstores, over on A Biblio Paradise.

Yesterday was a busy day, but a fun one. Up early, the usual yoga/meditation every morning. Some admin work, got a pitch out.

Then, into the car and drove to Brockton to meet with a potential new client. I was worried about the drive, but it was completely pleasant, and, along Rt. 106, even had some good memories — my grandmother, mother and I used to use 106 when driving between Foxboro and Plymouth. I thoroughly enjoyed myself during the meeting itself. The project is exciting, and I think I’d be an excellent person to help it reach its full potential. It’s a project where I not only have the ability to help bring it to fruition, but, because I’m genuinely excited about it. I’d also have the passion for it. Even more important, I could see myself working happily in the environment and with the people who would be my colleagues. It wouldn’t be just getting through it — it would be looking forward to going to work every day.

At this point, it’s out of my hands — either they think I’m the right person both for the job and the situation, or they don’t. There’s no way of knowing that until they either make me an offer or tell me they’re going with someone else. I just keep on doing what I do, and hope for the best. It would be an adjustment to work on site a few days a week, but I’ve been thinking about it for awhile — doing more on-site work.

Home, back to work, catching up on everything I missed while I was out. One of my late-paying clients ponied up, so I’ll finish off the last couple of articles, and when I get paid for those next month, I’m done with that publication.

Did the revision on the TALENT pilot script — will put the changes in today, and then I’ll have to write the synopsis for that one, too. My script package date was pushed back to March 4, at my request — I’m certainly not going to send it out during the Mercury Retrograde, and the original date fell smack in the midst of that. It also gives me a couple of extra weeks to make sure the material is polished to gleaming.

Today, I have a lot of prep work for tonight’s meeting, writing, and working with students. Hopefully, the other slow-paying client will cough up, as promised, and we can wrap things up.

To the page!

Devon

Published in: on January 14, 2014 at 8:34 am  Comments Off on Tues. Jan. 14, 2014: The Project Stack  
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Friday, April 16, 2010

Waxing Moon
Rainy and cold

I was up at 5:30, but decided not to run, a mixture of the rain, the coyotes,and the fact that I could barely put weight on my left knee yesterday. Nothing says “prey” like a limping target, right? If I feel better tomorrow, I might give it a shot later in the morning, not at dawn.

I did a little writing Wednesday night, after I scheduled the post — mostly outline work.

Yesterday morning, the cleaning crew came in, so I packed up and took off for the Greenwich Library, to do research for the Chet Grey story. I’ve wanted to do it for weeks now, and the story is at a standstill because of it.

It was a very intense few hours of reading about neurology, neuoplasticity, interior and exterior artificial “brains”, neurowarfare, biological and chemical warfare, and the development of the elite “warrior-athletes”, commonly labeled “Super Soldiers” in pop culture. My dad was a chemist, and wanted me to be a nuclear physicist. I forget, in between bouts of science reading, how quickly I take to it, and how natural a lot of it is for me. Truly good science writing is a joy. It’s inspirational on so many levels — quality of writing and quality of content. And it sometimes makes me wonder about the road not taken.

The research will serve far more than this Chet Grey story — which may well turn out to be a novella. It’s given me a few ideas for some straight-up sci-fi, and additional info to get past the “stuck” on a piece that started as a screenplay for Script Frenzy a few years ago, and then morphed into a novel.

I also picked up a nice stack of books at the library sale.

And Strand Books, bless ’em, already have some relevant books on their way to me. They are my go-to book resource.

At first, I was totally elated by the research, high on the possibilities, both in actual terms and in terms of fiction. However, as the day progressed, and the weight of the information really began to sink in, I was filled with a combination of hope and despair. I don’t believe that the governments and the private companies funding this work have the ethics to safeguard it. And, deep down, most people want to believe they do, but don’t and therefore ignore the fact all this even exists — hence the basis for best-selling espionage fiction. Anyway, it depressed the hell out of me. We can’t just have the intelligent in charge — even the most intelligent of people can get caught up in the excitement of discovery or of greed. We need people with strong ethics and a strong sense of social justice. The right wing nuts in this country have hijacked the term “social justice” to be a Bad Thing for America — when, in reality, the only “bad” about it is that it doesn’t let the corrupt have all the money and all the power. “Social justice” is a concept far removed from “socialism” — but then, most of the people who toss around that term have no idea what it really means, either. This country is not heading towards socialism, and socialism wouldn’t work here.

Basically, I think we’re all fucked at this point, no matter who’s in office, because there’s so much greed and so much corruption, corporations can do anything they want without consequence, and the ones who scream the loudest against it,the fake protesters, pretending to be grass roots, but, in reality, funded by the most corrupt and ethically-challenged individuals in this country, funded by the ones who want to maintain the status quo and just have all this distraction, the noise, the smoke and mirrors, so they can continue to economically and socially rape the country. The current administration hasn’t taken strong enough steps to turn back the previous regime’s corruption — and the Cheney years will go down in history as the most corrupt since post-civil war reconstruction — provided we have a world left in 200 years to read the history of this era. And, honestly, I’m beginning to doubt that we will.

But you know, with all that volcanic activity in Iceland, in addition to their economic collapse, I’m kind of glad I didn’t buy a place there a couple of years ago, when I was considering it!

I started reading one of the books I bought, something light to take my mind off it all, written by an author whose work I’ve enjoyed before. Not this time. The premise is good, the characters engaging, the execution doesn’t live up to it, and the writing is so sloppy I can barely get through it. Big disappointment.

Fortunately, I’m not friends with this person and don’t have to fumble to find something nice to say about the book, because chances are, we’ll never have to have a conversation about it!

The reading certainly made me look at last night’s episode of FRINGE with a different viewpoint. And, much as I enjoyed the scenes between the Walter Bishop character and the character played by Peter Weller, I still can’t get into the show. Part of it is Dunham’s unrelenting dourness. I understand, she’s really busy saving the world and all, and was experimented on as a child, but really, can’t she have a moment or two of pleasure, relaxation, or joy? This is nothing against the actress, she’s very good; I just disagree with the conception of the character. I also disagree with the show’s insistence (at least in the episodes I’ve seen), that everything in an alternate universe/alternate plane/whatever they’re calling it is negative and a threat. You know what? I bet they’re just trying to get through the day as much as we are, and with many of the same problems, corruptions, joys and sorrows. My philosophy differs on such a basic level that I can’t just accept and enter the world presented in the show.

I promised comments on the season finale of HUMAN TARGET, and here they are. First and foremost, I thought it was an excellent episode — the villains actually had personalities and posed a threat — finally! I was worried that the character of Katherine Walker would be a disappointment. We’ve heard so much about her all season. She was played by Amy Acker (whose work I liked a lot in both ANGEL and DOLLHOUSE), so the casting was a relief. And the creators made a smart choice — she wasn’t a Super anything. She was ordinary, and it was her very ordinariness and kindness that was Chance’s tipping point. Fantastic choice, and not one that’s usually made in this kind of show. There wasn’t enough of Jackie Earle Haley in the episode. Good fight scene with Mark Valley, and Haley gave my favorite delivery of any line in any show all season. The simplest line you can imagine: “Dude, it’s me” when Chance wonders how Guerrero found him that told us VOLUMES about their past, their relationship, their future. Perfect example of how the simplest of lines can have the biggest impact with brilliant delivery. The episode really needed to be two hours long, so we could have a bit more of the early Chance/Guerrero years, but if they come back next season, hopefully we’ll see. Something happened between them to make them intrinsically loyal to each other in a way they aren’t to anyone else. It might be better if we never know what that is; it might not measure up. I also loved the fact that Haley had the last line of the piece, about getting Winston back, and it’s the first chance we had to see that Guerrero not only gives a damn about Chance, but he also gives a damn about Winston. I also liked the fact that Katharine did not die in Chance’s arms. I was worried they’d go that route. Not doing so was the right choice, and it also opens up other possibilities.

Problems with the episode: Dog continuity. I’ve had trouble with it all season. They’ve got the dog, and don’t really utilize him properly. They keep sticking him in because they established him in the pilot, and they showed how Chance got him in this episode, but their use and continuity with him is shaky. Another problem: Winston’s phone. We see Chance steal it from his pocket early on to find the text with Katherine’s safe house address — another problem, I don’t believe the cops are that stupid to text Winston with the address — but, a few scenes later, Winston talks to Katherine and Chance on the cell phone. Katherine wouldn’t have answered her phone if she didn’t recognize Winston’s number, so how did Winston get the phone back? Another problem: Baptiste wasn’t hungry enough to prove he’s better than Chance. It was referred to briefly, but there wasn’t enough desperation and resentment there. Another problem: Towards the end, I don’t believe Guerrero wouldn’t take the old man out when he had the gun on him. I believe he wouldn’t shoot Chance earlier, and he went off the grid — that sets up a lot of their relationship. But when the old man shoots the guy who’s about to shoot Chance and Guerrero has the gun on him — I believe he’d have taken the shot (and succeeded) and he and Chance would have figured out where Winston is and how to retrieve him. I understand, in the overall arc, why it couldn’t happen, but it wasn’t logical or true to the characters in the moment.

I’m glad this wasn’t the pilot — it worked well as the season finale. If it is the SERIES finale as well, if the show doesn’t get renewed, at least we have enough information not to feel cheated. I hope it comes back. I’m interested to see where the creators take it in another season –whether I agree with those choices or not! 😉

I do miss being on set sometimes, but I’m where I need to be right now — writing — and, although I feel a little stuck, it’s the pressure I need to get me going in the right direction. Spending time on my own work rather than pouring that energy into other people’s work is where I need to be.

Got to go help my mom on something this morning, and then, it’s a day of writing. Will probably work on the Chet Grey story, make use of the research while it’s still fresh, but the bulk needs to be on the novella. The novella needs to be finished this weekend.

Back to the page. From neuroscience to 1889 in a heartbeat. I love being a writer!

Devon

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Waxing Moon
Sunny and pleasant

I spent NINE HOURS correcting exercises yesterday. I had nothing left in the tank for my own work, which simply can’t happen. I have more than double (close to triple) the amount of students I expected. I’m glad people are so enthusiastic, but with so many of them and only one of me, and each one submitting 2-3 pages for an exercise, it’s a lot.

The frustration is partially my fault. I don’t like to have things hanging over me. I wanted to comment on the exercises so they could apply the comments moving forward and to give them as much time for the next exercise as possible. I can switch from creation mode to comment mode, but I can’t switch back. So, not only did I spent nine hours commenting, but I couldn’t get back to my own work.

Therefore, I’m restructuring my day. I’ll write myself out on my deadline work first, and then switch gears into comments. It takes a whole different side of the brain, in a way, but a lot of energy. And people do put work into this, so they deserve my full attention on the posted piece.

The other workshop I’m going to teach for them is moved from August to January, which is what I’d originally asked for, and it works much better for me. There’s some amazing work being submitted in the class, and I honor the work and creativity that those people put in. But I’m spending way too much time dealing with grammar and punctuation issues (not just here, but in all the workshops in general) that are taught in the third grade. A pre-requisite of the course is to have a solid foundation in grammar, spelling, and structure. It is part of a writer’s JOB to get up to speed in these areas, and there’s plenty of material out there to help one do that. Although, frankly, if one can’t pass third grade level English requirements, one shouldn’t have been allowed to get to fourth grade, much less graduate from high school. A few mistakes are fine, but sometimes the student hasn’t bothered to proofread, which also drives me nuts. When the grammar, punctuation, and spelling make it impossible for me to follow the scene, there’s a problem. And when I say, “Go back and work on this, clean it up, here are the resources/books/links that will help you” and the next exercise contains all the same mistakes and it’s obvious that my notes were ignored and the person hasn’t bothered to learn the basics, I’m irate. I’m seriously considering making it a requirement to pass a structure test before taking a workshop. Because really, I’m not here to teach grammar school. I may institute a policy where I send it back if I find more than five errors. I get really angry when sloppy work is submitted. I find it disrespectful. I don’t want to hear whines about a lack of time — the student committed to the class. The student’s time management skills or lack thereof are not up to me, they are up to the student.

I also may have to think about limiting class size. That’s the norm for in-person workshops, but rarely done when teaching online. Either I have to limit class size, or jack my fee way up, which automatically limits class size, but then you lose some of your best students, because often the best ones are the ones scraping together their pennies to take the class. They’ve had to sacrifice the most to take the class, they want it the most, and they’re the most dedicated. I don’t want to deny them the opportunity because of cost. Having faced economic discrimination so often over the years (especially during Republican-run regimes), I don’t want to practice it. My time and work are worth a fee, but that balance has to be hit between people feeling that, because they’ve paid they better take it seriously and keeping it in reach of people who are struggling financially, but also talented and dedicated.

There’s definitely a learning process involved, especially when it comes to online teaching. On site is much easier, because the safeguards are already in place.

I got up at 5:30 this morning to run. I doubled my circuit from Monday and still wound up doing the loop twice. It was nice to be out that early, although a little eerie first time around. Down one particular block, the streetlights winked out as I passed, even though it was still dark. I felt like something out of a HARRY POTTER movie before Something Really Bad happens.

Lara, I have lots of trouble with my knees, especially the left one, which was permanently injured while hauling heavy clothes up and down stairs backstage on Broadway over the years. It’s one of the reasons I was so hesitant to start running, and I’m keeping an eye on it. I can’t do any type of squat exercises because that knee gives out. It’s another reason why I’m trying to pace myself and not overdo, especially at the beginning.

Hit the desk a little before 7, got some work done on POWER OF WORDS. The fixes I made in the sections up until now muck up the next bit, so I have to untangle it. I also have to do some research on the legalities of a teenager who emancipates from inept parents. Hopefully, I’ll also get to the library to do the research for the short story, and I have to go grocery shopping at some point, because right now, the cats’ cupboard is the only one that’s full.

Strand Books found some research books for two of my projects and they arrived yesterday. They take such good care of me. I truly treasure my relationship with them.

I have A LOT of exercises still to comment on — it looks like even more students are pouring into the class.

But first, I need to get back to the page.

Devon

Published in: on March 24, 2010 at 7:48 am  Comments (11)  
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Friday, August 7, 2009

Friday, August 7, 2009
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

Yesterday was fun. Hot and sticky, but lots of good food and great company, after typical NYC transportation kerflamma.

I left early to run a few errands and got to the train station well before my train. The previous train was running late, so when it turned up, I jumped on, figuring the later train would be even later. Got in to Grand Central early. Texted Costume Imp — who was stuck on HIS train. Wandered over to Starbucks for an iced coffee– the woman behind the counter was hilarious, telling the woman in line behind me, “We have lots of great stuff here. Don’t you be fixing your face like that!”

Revived by iced coffee, I heard the announcement that the train I PLANNED to take was stuck somewhere along the line, and was grateful I wasn’t on it. Also noticed heavy police presence and that the trash bins were removed — NYPD must have gotten a tip.

Costume Imp arrived and we booked up Fifth Avenue through the tourists to Central Park. Of course, when we got into the Park, I got us headed in the wrong direction, but we found a helpful man with a map and only got to the Boathouse a few minutes late for our reservation. We were seated at a table right at water’s edge, where we could see the turtles poke up their little heads asking for bread from the bread basket. I don’t think I’ve ever seen turtles beg before!

We had a lovely three course meal with the appropriate wines — pate to start, I had the flank steak with horseradish-dill mashed potatoes and asparagus, Costume Imp had the pork, and we split a layered Key Lime Cake with mango after. Unfortunately, the cake also had coconut, which neither of us like.

We pulled out the Prague books and shared information, and Imp told me about this three weeks in Italy, which sounded wonderful! We’re gathering a lot of information for the trip, but also giving ourselves a lot of flexibility — not deciding a moment-by-moment itinerary, but seeing what we feel like doing each day, knowing we will cover a lot of ground over the course of a week.

On the way back, we stopped by the Strand outpost next to the park, where I got a book about dime novels and a Swedish mystery. We continued back down Fifth Avenue — Costume Imp peeled off to go back home, and I went over to Hagstrom’s to get a better map of Prague –one that actually has the part of town in it containing our hotel. I found it right away — and there was a whole shelf of books on Prague, which made my mouth water. I settled on a book of walking tours — although I don’t think we could do all of them (most of them are day-long excursions) — it will give us some details along the way.

The cultural history of Prague I’m reading discusses their “tradition of defenestration.”

Okay.

As good as the food was, I don’t eat meat often, and it sat like a lead ball in my stomach all night. I skipped both dinner and my workout.

Books arrived from National Geographic — a travel tale about Norway, a book about an excavation in the Andes, and the Family Reference Atlas, which is one of the coolest Atlases I’ve ever seen!

Packed for next week — clothes, anyway. I’ve got to back the books and reference materials today, and then I’ll pack the food first thing before I leave.

I’ve got to stock up on cat food at Trader Joe’s today, get some client work done, and get some work done on the short stories. I had a great morning’s work on the second mystery, but I’ve got to get the draft of the first one typed and printed so I can revise it over the weekend. I am not looking forward to figuring out how to cut 1500 words — that’s almost a story in itself. In other words, I have to decide if I’ll take out one of th elements running through the piece, or if I can make enough small, internal cuts and tightenings so that it adds up to 1500 words.

Ran into a neighbor while I took out the garbage this morning, and mentioned the DSL problem. He’s been having the same problem with Verizon, as have several other people in the building. When they call, they’re told to switch to FIOS to fix the problem, which is of course, more expensive. So it looks like all of us are making the jump to Optimum instead. None of us are amused by this strong-arm tactic.

Fixed the other side of the 1950’s chair yesterday, and hope to fix the seat today. Week after next, after the site job and the internet switch, I’ll go in search of fabric to make new cushions.

Got a reply to a job pitch. I’m definitely qualified, but this guy is trying to get me to give him a quote without giving me the details I need to give him a quote, saying he can’t talk about the project in detail yet and he needs a quote to see if we can move forward so neither of our time is wasted. I asked him a few more questions — if he answers, he gets a quote. If not, buh-bye. I’m sure I’m out of his price range anyway — I’m pretty sure, even though this is a long-term, royalty-producing project, he’s looking for an inexpensive work-for-hire, so he should probably get someone earlier in their career. But if he wants it to really take off, he needs someone with experience. Tough, when you’re creating a project, but if you’re going to hire in people rather than creating from within your tribe, the boundaries are different.

At least it’s cooler and less humid — for the moment.

Have a great weekend!

Devon